Artists, Photographers, and Writers, Wake Up!
Note that even if you live outside the United States, this would make it easier for a US citizen or corporation to pirate your work. It is also intended, in the arrogant plans of the US Copyright Office, to serve as a "model" for other countries dealing with the same problems.
I hate to tell my faithful readers this, but if it passes, I will be taking down many of the posts on this blog. I may take them down in anticipation of its passing. I hate to punish you, my honest readers, but like many other creative people who are already aware of this, I do not feel with such a law hanging over my head it is safe for me to share my work as I have done in the past.
Google that term, and read the details on this proposed law. If a work could truly be established as orphaned, something its creator had lost all interest in, I wouldn't mind the law. Owners of old photographs who want to get them retouched, but can't find the original photographer? There should be a way they can get their photos fixed up legally.
What concerns me is the vague legal language corporate interests have managed to get inserted. I learned, a few years ago, that the real lawmaking isn't even done in Congress any more. Those idiots just rubberstamp ill advised invitations to disaster, then, regulations are drawn up to define what the laws 'mean' by their vague language. That is when the real damage happens.
In this case, major corporations that would just love to steal intellectual property such as artwork, photographs, and writing at low cost, or get their hands on works the creator won't sell to them at any price, now have a great loophole. They only have to make "reasonable" efforts to find the copyright owner. So long as they follow "best practices" whose definition they can influence, they won't be breaking the law.
In addition, they have armies of high powered lawyers on constant retainer: with loopholes like this for their corporate sharks to rip through, no copyright holder who has to struggle to afford a lawyer at all will ever stand a chance against them. On one forum, an artist is calling for all artists, photographers, and writers, and the businesses that depend on them, to organise a day, 24 hours, of international protest against this proposed travesty of a law.
What would we do to protest? Take down all creative content, replacing it with a statement: "This is what the Internet will look like if corporate interests have their way, and the Orphan Works Act is passed in the US Congress. If you don't like it, call your congresscritter now." I hope we can pull something like that together. If you think that is a good idea, you have my permission to reprint this post, in its entirety, or write your own post and link to this one.
One final note: the Copyright Office endorses this invasion of our rights in a snarky statement that implies copyright is somehow a privilege. Let's go further, and seek our natural rights. If a carpenter works on a table, is it not his to dispose of as he wishes? We work on our creations - they are ours. It is no privilege to say we own them. Let's seek full legal status with every other person who works for themselves, and has the right to keep the product of their labours, or to part with it on terms they choose.